Most people have heard the term third eye before. Even if you haven’t heard that your mind has an invisible eye that helps you perceive concepts beyond ordinary sight, you might have heard of the band, Third Eye Blind, which put its own spin on this Buddhist and Hindu concept. When I first presented in 2006 my concept of a third ear, I thought I had created something original. Little did I know that Psychoanalyst Theodor Reik had spoken of a similar concept. He even wrote a book on it that I now need to read. In the meantime, here is my take on the concept and how I apply it to conflict resolution.
Q: Where is your third ear?
Look in the center of the English word for corazon, Herz, or coeur, there it is: h-E-A-R-t.
Your third ear is in your heart. Not literally, of course. But this simple concept and the Third Ear logo are intended to remind you to slow down when you are emotionally charged. Look beyond the obvious for the fear, pain, and human vulnerabilities in people, even when they are yelling at you. Listen for the hurts you can heal. This will make you a more effective problem-solver at work and at home.
Q: Will third ear listening make me a wimp?
Absolutely not and, in fact, quite the opposite! It takes far more courage to confront and resolve conflicts than to run away from them. Look around you. How many people are complaining about their lives, wanting change, and doing little more than changing the channel on television?
Are the people who are calling you “soft” any more in control of their lives than you are in control of yours?
Who do you want to have the power to define your life?
Which makes you more of a wimp-taking responsibility for the results you produce and being in control of your direction, or allowing others to be the experts on your life?
By now, I have no doubt that you have started to see and enjoy some new opportunities for your career, relationships, and life. This might have caused some people in your life discomfort because they are seeing a more powerful, effective version of you. This does not mean that you will lose those relationships or that you have to hand over any of your power. They are probably just as afraid as you were about making changes, and they need some time to adapt. They need to see that, although some of your self-destructive behaviors have changed, you are still you. They also need to see that they can shift their lives in more powerful ways without huge disruption. Give them time, love and patience. Use your third ear.
Q: What if the other person’s third ear is deaf?
Ouch. That can be a tough situation. I sometimes feel that is the case with some people in my life, too. I wish I could tell you that if you work at it long enough, even the most challenging relationship will transform. I can’t. It would not be responsible for me to mislead you, and that is opposite of my intent. The fact is that there will be people who pass through your life, leaving little more than trails of litter–until you decide to make their garbage your art. You can still love them and want great things for them, but sometimes you need to do that from afar.
Q: When your first book was published, there were protests and riots in Ferguson Missouri and New York City. What has changed since then?
Not much, obviously. That’s part of why my 2021 theme is Courage, and why I am working on a second Third Ear Conflict Resolution book focused on resolving racial conflicts. I expect that book to be out by November 1st.
Nance L. Schick, Esq., is a workplace attorney, ethno-religious mediator, and conflict resolution coach based in New York City. Her goal is to keep managers and small business owners out of court and build their conflict resolution skills so everyone has a better work experience. She is creator of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process, author of DIY Conflict Resolution, and an award-winning entrepreneur acknowledged by Super Lawyers (ADR, 2018, 2019 & 2020), the New York Economic Development Corporation/B-Labs (Finalist, Best for NYC 2015 & 2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business), Enterprising Women Magazine (Honorable Mention, 2014 Woman of the Year awards).